ANACORTES, Wash. — Ken Talsky likes to gives his pets freedom to roam and play around his home. They usually stay close by, but not this time.
"I turned my back on him for 10 or 15 minutes and he got away," Talsky said.
His pet Pokey dug under a backyard fence and got out.
"It was about four o'clock in the afternoon and I knew I had to find him before dark," said Talsky. "I just started panicking more and more."
That dark night turned into days, which turned into months.
Talsky and his wife printed up posters and asked everyone in their Anacortes neighborhood for help.
But Pokey was gone.
"All of the neighbors were just so concerned," Talsky said. "They were constantly asking if we found him. Everybody was telling us they were searching for him and we're gonna find him."
When all hope was lost, just a few days ago, neighbor Laurie Endicott spied something in her garden.
"I looked at him and asked, are you Pokey? And he nodded his head, and I was like — did he just nod at me?!"
More than six months after disappearing, Pokey was found — just four doors away.
"I couldn't believe it was him," said Endicott. "He lived all this time, after the snow and everything! It was crazy!"
Pokey is no ordinary pet. He's the Talsky's pet tortoise.
Ken and his wife Janet have had Pokey for 19 years, since he was the size of a quarter.
It leaves some to wonder exactly how does one lose a creature with such sloth-like speed?
"He's deceptively fast," Ken Talsky said. "He's crafty and he's smart. We should've named him Houdini."
Tortoises prefer temperatures between 80 and 100 degrees.
The family is still at a loss as to how Pokey survived all that time in the frigid Washington winter, especially given all the snow this season, but he isn't completely surprised.
"As time went on and on, I thought our chances of finding him were less and less. But I told someone that if anybody could make it, this guy is so strong willed, it would be Pokey that could survive."